A 24-metre tower has been erected in a wetlands reserve to offer migratory birds a safe place to nest.

Every summer, Walthamstow Wetlands welcomes hundreds of swifts ready to nest after their journey from Africa, where the birds spend winter.

A calling system which plays recordings of their song, mimicking the sound of a colony, has been installed in the ‘Swift Tower’.

It is hoped this will attract the attention of young birds, who will be ready to explore new nesting habitats when they return to London in coming years.

swift tower

Image from West Essex and East London Guardian

The tower was built as a replica of the chimney stack of the wetlands’ original Engine House dating from 1894.

A prominent industrial feature, it was demolished in 1960 after the pumping systems switched from coal to electric power.

The new tower, which rises in the place of the former chimney, features includes 54 specially designed bricks where the birds can raise their young during spring and summer.

Since the early 1990s, the number of swifts in the UK has dramatically plummeted, mainly due to loss of habitat and the use of pesticides which have dramatically decreased the amount of food available.

As part of their conservation efforts, London Wildlife Trust is monitoring and recording swift numbers at Walthamstow Wetlands and hopes to encourage more to visit with improved nesting habitats and food sources.

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